Does Loving-Kindness Meditation Reduce Anxiety? Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial

Abstract

Although loving-kindness meditation (LKM) has shown some promise as a psychological intervention, little is known about the effectiveness of LKM for reducing one of the most prevalent mental health problems: anxiety. To build knowledge in this area, we conducted a randomized controlled trial, assigning non-clinical undergraduates to either a four-session, group-based LKM intervention (n = 38) or a waitlist control (n = 33). Self-reported anxiety, compassionate love, and self-compassion were assessed at pretreatment, posttreatment, and 8-week follow-up. Relative to control participants, participants in the LKM intervention reported higher compassionate love and self-compassion at posttreatment and higher self-kindness (a component of self-compassion) at follow-up. Anxiety ratings did not significantly differ between conditions at posttreatment or follow-up. Study limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

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Correspondence to Andrew S. McClintock.

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This study was not externally funded.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participates were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Weibel, D.T., McClintock, A.S. & Anderson, T. Does Loving-Kindness Meditation Reduce Anxiety? Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness 8, 565–571 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0630-9

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Keywords

  • Loving-kindness
  • Meditation
  • Anxiety
  • Compassionate love
  • Self-compassion
  • Self-kindness